The island province of Bohol finally hit the annual one million tourists mark, a feat that has only reinforced the launching of the “education revolution” to fortify the three pillars of development and growth of the province.
Arrivals even surpassed the one million mark at 1,000,186 tourists in 2016, according to Lourdes Sultan, vice chair for private sector of the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC), quoting the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Achieved for the first time in this prime island-province destination, the record has more than inspired the enhancement of the “turo-turismo” being launched and piloted at a senior high school in Bohol.
The Tourism Senior High School Program piloted at the Lourdes National High School in Panglao is integral to a strategy called by Gov. Edgar Chatto as the “education revolution.”
Fully supported by the Department of Education (DepEd) – Bohol Division Office, the education revolution includes the launching of the senior high schools for agriculture and information technology.
Chatto cited tourism, agro-industry and information communications technology (ICT) as the three pillars of Bohol’s economic development and sustainable inclusive growth.
The three dynamos of development and growth complement with all other industries, enterprises and entrepreneurships to stimulate more economic activities.
Bohol’s Agri-Entrepreneurship Senior High School Program that taps the San Pascual National High School in Ubay was launched on Wednesday.
Food production is not only for locals because tourists do eat, Chatto said, adding that Bohol is not just accessible by sea but air also, including the daily direct international flights from Korea now which is an “exciting milestone.”
In a consistent development, DOT Asec. Ricky Alegre said Boracay, Bohol and Palawan remain the top destinations of tourists from Korea, the United States and China.
A major rice production enhancement program in Bohol has been assisted by the Korean government.
The agriculture senior high school was launched during the Education-Government-Industry Partnership Summit in Senior High School and Enhanced Alternative Learning System at the Bohol Cultural Center.
Presented during the summit, Japanese partners committed full support, even to help run the Senior High School Digital Bohol ICT Program.
Further, all high schools are envisioned to have ICT laboratories, Chatto said.
The tourism and agriculture senior high schools are a partnership program under the “Coalition for Change” of the Australian Assistance for International Development (AusAID), The Asia Foundation, DepEd and Bohol government.
The DepEd is strongly interested in replicating Bohol’s turo-turismo nationwide using the modules crafted by the tourism senior high school themselves after their competent training.
Training will also be done for the teachers of the senior high school for agricultural research and industry.
An industry linkage is to be strategized involving all provincial and national government agencies which are all related to agriculture.
Chatto said the agro-industry senior high school campus in Ubay will also have a support 50-hectare area for fruit and vegetable production with the private sector in the marketing of yields.
EDUC REVOLUTION:A DEV’T WEAPON
Bohol’s education revolution is “not an arm of destruction but rather the sharpening of learning as a weapon for development,” Chatto said.
The governor enjoined the Boholanos to support the education revolution which, he said, also intends to fill the gap between employment and workforce needs, especially skills.
“We all work for an inclusive growth where everyone has job,” Chatto said.
Sultan reported Bohol’s hitting the one million mark tourists last year during a critical tourism forum attended by industry keyplayers and stakeholders at Panda Tea Garden here on Friday.
Meanwhile, Bohol has not been not sold out to the country’s new tourism promotional tag “Experience the Philippines.
In a resolution, the Executive Committee of the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) asked the DOT to retain the previous labeling, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”
The PTC is a private sector-led government-instituted tourism consultative body chaired by hotelier Atty. Lucas Nunag, Jr. with two vice chairpersons.
Sultan, a tour operator, is the vice chair for private sector while Provincial Board Member Alexie Kristine Tutor, head of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) tourism committee, is the vice chair for government sector.
Being not familiar to and having not sunken in the global tourism consciousness, the new tagline, also besieged by plagiarism controversy, is feared to instead create setbacks instead of penetrating the markets.
Besides, the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” catchphrase has been consistent with the then charming “WoW Philippines” branding.
Chatto, who himself stayed during the entire tourism fourm, would want a stronger Bohol Tourism Office (BTO) that can maximize support to the industry, opportunities for promotion while stirring various programs.
There is strength in good programs on policy development, product development in different tourist sites, fair regulations, and networking with the local chief executives and tourism officers.
In support of the BTO, the governor emphasized the essential role and competence of PTC Exec. Dir. Emmylou Palacio.
The PTC ensures the full participation and inclusive involvement of all tour and hospitality industry keyplayers and stakeholders.
Chatto said the private sector participation is emphasized in tourism governance, which hehighlighted during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) this year.
Further in support of the BTO, there is a special unit for events management to strengthen the MICE program of the province led by Executive Assistant Liza Flores.
The MICE means Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions.
Flores also heads the new Bohol graduates of the Foreign Service Institute FSI) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
She led the over 70 DFA-FSI graduates who were responsible for the professional handling of the Bohol hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEASN ) meeting in April, Chatto recounted.
The group will help maximize the exposure of students of the universities and colleges offering tourism and hospitality courses.
Chatto said the Bohol Investment Promotions Center (BIPC) led by Ma. Fe Dominise and Provincial Enterprise Management Officer Loinda Salaum assist potential investors focusing on economic enterprises that relate to tourism and hospitality.
Again, the governor emphasized the essence of a strong foundation for the skills and talents in tourism and the two other economic development pillars.
Fast tourism growth is projected not just because of the new air routes but also of the improvement of the major seaports that provide entries to more fastcrafts.
Chatto said there is a strong interest in providing fast ferry services that can shorten Bohol’s travel time by sea from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao to Jagna. (Ven rebo Arigo)